A California-based company is taking the ad-supported model popularized by smartphone apps and applying it to the next generation of vehicle infrastructure with a nationwide network of free DC fast charging stations.
Volta announced last week that it will build 150 stations over the course of the next year. This first wave of installations will be built near retail hubs in partnership with local developers. The stations will house a mix of 50- and 100-kw chargers, the company said, and charging will be initiated and monitored via a free app.
"Our charger network is designed to intelligently expand the critical infrastructure needed for electric vehicle adoption, while inspiring the public to ditch gas and go electric," said Volta Founder and CEO Scott Mercer.
Don't expect to plug in and enjoy an afternoon of free parking with a complimentary charge, though. The free session ends after 30 minutes, or as much as 175 miles of range (vehicle-dependent, of course). After that customers can either pay for additional juice or move on down the road.
While this may seem like an inconvenient limitation, the company points out that it could save customers as much as $1,155 per year in equivalent energy costs. Put another way: Free is free.
Volta's HQ is in San Francisco but the company also has a New York City office, which is encouraging for East Coast EV buyers and hopefuls who are often left out of early infrastructure pushes. In fact, the first fast-charging station will open in Norwalk, Connecticut, later in October.